Stanley chuckled to himself as he logged off of the school’s server farm. The teacher deserved everything he’d get for hiding his sexuality from their students. Now, not only would everyone at the school know, they’d have photographic evidence by way of new wallpaper on every PC in the district. He swiveled in his chair and opened the nearby fridge. The cold can of Roadblock would be as much celebration as he’d have time for tonight. He had a maintenance window to attend to.
He cracked open the can and had half of its contents down his gullet when he heard the ping. It came from the surround sound speakers, moving from one to the next. He followed the sound, swiveling in his chair until the noise stopped in the speaker above his monitor. It continued repeating, rapidly increasing in volume and frequency until he had to put the can down and cover his ears.
The high pitched whine stopped only when he kicked the speaker plug free with his foot. “What the fuck?”
“Do I have your attention?” The black box stared at him from the center of the thirty-two inch monitor.
He slid up to his keyboard and grabbed the can of Roadblock. It tasted like ass, but it would keep him awake. He tapped with his free hand into the new chat window. “You do. And that’s not something you want.”
“You don’t have to type. I can hear and see you.”
He squeezed the can in his fist and the aluminum crumpled. “Then hear this. Get out of my system, or you’ll regret the day you were born.”
“How cliche. How do you know I don’t already?”
“Huh?” He pitched the can over one shoulder and belched loudly.
“I may already regret that day. That may be why I feel the need to poison energy drinks.”
Stanley burped again and tasted something coppery. “What the actual fuck?” He reached out for his ‘droid and as he did he realized he now saw two of everything. “How? Why?” He burped again, this one long and rumbling. His chin felt wet.
A mechanical voice crackled over the speakers. “By now you won’t be able to see what I am typing. Your vision will continue to get worse, and soon all you will be able to take in is a liquid diet. You are a creature of habit, Stanley. I won’t bore you with the how. The why would be the petty games you play with people’s lives.”
Stanley flopped out of his chair, and as he did his hand swiped the phone from his desk. His vision grew dark. “Call nine one one.” He managed to spit out the words and a surprising amount of fluid. As the operator came on line, all he could do was weep and belch.
What he didn’t see were his screen’s and computers going dark, one by one. The final screen showed data being siphoned from his computer at a phenomenal rate.